Up to Eric's Home Page To Index Thu Sep 13 13:44:12 EDT 1990

Raymond's Reviews #86

More September catchup...

%T The Eyes of the Beholder
%A A. C. Crispin
%I Pocket Books
%D September 1990
%O paperback, US$5.95
%P 243
%G 0-671-70010-3

Ms. Crispin seems to have a thing about handicaps and adjustment thereto. In Silent Dances (RR#79) a deaf person spents pages ruminating over whether to have her hearing restored with a new operation; in this novel, blind but electronically "sighted" Commander La Forge spends the opening pages contemplating the same question. Sadly, in Eyes the opening scenes are followed by a melodramatic, cliche-heavy tangle of subplots apparently intended as a "juvenile" but insulting to the intelligence of an SF fan of any age. I mean, really -- between the cute little orphan girl, the Mysterious Alien Force Within The Sargasso Of Dead Ships, Data's fumbling attempts to write a novel and sundry thumpingly obvious reactions by characters that were cardboard to begin with, I was hard put to get halfway through this dreadful turkey. Dances had its problems but wasn't this bad; more evidence, I guess, for the theory that trekfic brings out the worst in authors and editors.

%T Grass
%A Sheri S. Tepper
%I Bantam/Spectra
%D September 1990
%O paperback, US$5.95
%P 449
%G 0-553-28565-3

Sheri S. Tepper has a regrettable tendency to waste a major imaginative talent on axe-grinding and shaky premises. When she manages to avoid this she is very good indeed, as Grass demonstrates. The book revolves around a multi-layered biological puzzle, as Lady Marjorie Westriding of Earth works to understand the relationship between the Grassian aristocracy and the creatures they ride in their weird and often lethal parody of Old Earth's fox hunts. The results are dark and fascinating. Recommended.

%T Fire on the Border
%A Kevin O'Donnell, Jr.
%D September 1990
%O paperback, US$4.95
%P 368
%G 0-451-45030-2

The author of The Journeys of McGill Feighan and Oracle brings us a hardware-heavy space opera. The vast and alien Wayholder Empire, committed to endless war against the devouring nano-replicators of the even more alien Korrin, begins to use human frontier worlds as training grounds for its troops. It hands Terra an ultimatum -- permit the slaughter of so many planetary populations a year or face total annihilation. The Terran Association submits, neutralizing its vast navies -- but the colony worlds do not. It falls to two men -- Kajiwara Hoshiro and his clone-son Daitaku, the last samurai -- to lead the battle against human defeatism and alien might. The characters are strictly cardboard but the hardware and tactical ideas quite original and interesting; if you like hard SF with carefully thought out space-battle scenes as much as I do, you'll enjoy this book for that reason alone.

RECEIVED BUT NOT REVIEWED (aka the regular fantasy-series discard pile):

Game's End (Kevin J. Anderson), Isle of View (Piers Anthony), Usurper: The Second Book of the Kingdoms (Angus Wells). Is any more explanation than the titles really necessary...?

Up to Eric's Home Page To Index Thu Sep 13 13:44:12 EDT 1990

Eric S. Raymond <esr@snark.thyrsus.com>